A Career in Esthetics



As the saying goes - beauty is only skin-deep – and this is good news for the skincare industry. The meteoric growth of the health and wellness industry is creating unprecedented opportunities and a dazzling outlook for licensed estheticians.

How to Become an Aesthetician

  • Find A Program

The global skincare product industry is worth an estimated $121 billion- and it just keeps growing. The major drivers behind this growth come from a demand for natural and organic skincare products and services, and a growing interest in anti-aging products and services coming from baby boomers with plenty of money to spend.

This is all good news for anybody thinking about becoming an esthetician (or aesthetician, as it is often spelled).

Between 2012 and 2022, the number of estheticians licensed in the United States is expected to grow by 40 percent to meet the growing demand for specialized skincare services. This is more than twice as fast as other professions within the beauty and wellness industry, including manicurists and pedicurists (16 percent projected job growth) and hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists (11 percent projected job growth).

Although the licensing requirements and processes for estheticians vary somewhat from one state to the next, all states that issue licenses to skincare specialists require candidates to qualify through formal training and the successful completion of both a practical and written exam.

Estheticians in all states and U.S. jurisdictions are required to receive a state-issued license, with the exception of Connecticut, which does not currently have licensing requirements in place.

Completing a Training Program Through a School of Esthetics

Earning the distinction that comes with being recognized as a state-licensed expert in the art and science of promoting healthy, glowing skin through non-surgical and non-invasive measures requires candidates to develop their expertise over time. This is most often accomplished through a formal education and training program, or by completing an apprenticeship under the supervision and guidance of an experienced esthetician.

Esthetics programs, which are available through dedicated schools of esthetics, career colleges or schools of cosmetology, must meet the requirements set forth by each state’s board of cosmetology. Most states recognize esthetics programs that consist of 600 hours of coursework and practical training as meeting the requirements for licensure, although a number of states require more hours while others require significantly fewer. For example, esthetician license candidates in Wisconsin must complete a program that is at least 450 hours long, while candidates in Indiana must complete a program consisting of at least 700 hours.

Esthetics programs blend theory and practical study to introduce students to everything from skin histology and sanitation practices to the safe application of facial products and makeup. These programs also include coursework that covers the business, ethics and professional standards of the esthetics industry.

Aspiring estheticians often select a program based on a number of factors, including:

  • Price
  • Location
  • Class schedules
  • Part-time/evening/distance education options
  • Teaching philosophies
  • Class size

While some states use their own state-specific exams, many use the national esthetics examinations created by the National-Interstate Council on State Boards of Cosmetology (NIC). Esthetics programs often include exam preparation and scheduling so that students can complete the program having met all the requirements necessary to apply for a state license.

Exploring Professional Opportunities in Esthetics

Through consultations and evaluations, estheticians determine their clients’ needs and recommend treatments accordingly. Just a few of the esthetic services licensed estheticians perform include:

  • Removing unwanted hair by way of waxing, threading, and chemical depilatories
  • Facials, exfoliations, and masks to improve skin tone, cleanse pores, and address oily, dry, or acne-prone skin
  • Anti-aging treatments like laser therapy and chemical peels to minimize or prevent fine lines and wrinkles
  • Microdermabrasion
  • Blackhead extractions
  • Wraps, sugar or salt scrubs, and moisturizing treatments for the body
  • Makeup application
  • Head, neck, and scalp massage
Enter Zip:

Estheticians are found performing these and other services in full-service salons or spas, destination resorts, cruise ships, medi-spas, wellness centers, and even in healthcare settings.

Estheticians are also often found working alongside dermatologists and plastic surgeons in outpatient clinics. Although esthetic services are not medical in nature, this type of partnership is often beneficial since estheticians are able to provide clients with treatments that complement certain medical procedures.

Most exciting, perhaps, is the fact that many estheticians become business owners themselves, opening salons, spas, or esthetics clinics of their own. Experienced estheticians can even go on to work on a freelance basis for TV and move production companies, fashion magazines, or theater troupes. Some even choose to specialize in niche areas like the bridal industry.

Additional information and resources are available through the following organizations:

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